CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 February 2019

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Sinicise or bust

HONG KONG (UCAN): Authorities overseeing the life of religious communities and Churches in China told a group of bishops and Church leaders they must Sinicise or bust.

At a gathering soon after Beijing concluded its hushed meetings with a Vatican delegation in October, the Church leaders were told that they must insist on a process of Sinicisation being implemented in their communities.

It comes as Vatican officials publicly confirmed that China and the Holy See are engaged in a dialogue, which included an October 11 to 16 visit to Beijing by a six-member delegation from the Holy See.

Shortly after these meetings, a group of 25 Chinese bishops, priests, sisters and laypeople met with officials from the State Administration for Religious Affairs from October 19 to 24 in Guizhou province.

“At the moment, loving Church and the country is manifested through… insisting on Sinicisation and deepening the extent of managing the Church in a democratic way,” Chen Zhongrong, the vice director of the religious affairs administration, told the Catholic leaders during the trip.

The concept of Sinicisation of religion was first used by the president of China, Xi Jinping, in May. As part of the policy, Churches are urged to adapt to a Chinese society under Communist rule.

“Loving the country and the Church are both love from God,” the website of the State Administration of Religious Affairs reported Chen as saying. It says that he then added that he hopes the Catholic leaders would “continue to walk the path of an independent Church with a firm will.”

The 25 Catholic leaders who attended the meeting all hold posts with the government-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China, a body which the Holy See does not recognise.

As part of the six-day trip, bishops who have the approval of both the Holy See and Beijing concelebrated Masses with bishops who were ordained illicitly, some of whom have been declared by the Holy See as being excommunicated.

Laypeople in China consider this to be a sacrilege and reject the idea.

As part of the trip, the Catholic delegation also visited sites considered important to Chinese Communism, in addition to some Catholic churches in Guizhou.

Meanwhile in Rome, Pietro Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, confirmed the October meeting between the Holy See and Beijing had taken place.

“It is a part of a process aimed at the normalisation of relations,” Cardinal Parolin told the media October 28. “The sheer fact we are able to talk about it is significant.”

The cardinal said the Vatican hopes to establish normal relations with China.


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